Butter Beans with Ham Hock
This recipe takes me back to my mama's kitchen when every type of bean was cooked with a ham hock.
Just in case you were wondering what in the world a ham hock is, it comes from the lower leg portion of a pig. Ham hocks can be found fresh, cured or smoked. My mama always used the cured ones. These are wrapped tightly in a sealed package and the meat resembles the texture of country ham.
Ham hocks typically need plenty of time to cook and tenderize. For this dish, as the meat cooks with the beans, the hock will begin to break down. Once it begins to pull away from the bone, the meat can be pulled apart and mixed in with the butter beans.
Butter beans, green beans, field peas, black eyed peas, pintos, etc. may all be cooked using this same method. I am using frozen butter beans here; however, you may also use dried beans like pintos, red beans, navy beans, black eyed peas, etc.. If you use dried beans, just soak them in water overnight before starting the cooking process.
These butter beans are full of flavor and develop a creamy, thick broth that pairs very well with a slice of cornbread.
Note: If you purchase smoked ham hocks, whatever you cook with them will take on the same smokey flavor. These are really delicious for red beans and rice as well as other dishes. For this recipe, however, I prefer the cured ham hocks instead.
24-48 ounces frozen butter beans
One 12 ounce ham hock (cured)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
Using a large stock pot, combine the butter beans, salt, pepper and ham hock. Add enough water to cover the top of the beans and ham hock.
Bring to a boil.
Once they start to boil, turn the heat down to medium to simmer and allow them to cook (semi-covered) for 2-3 hours. Stir occasionally.
You will know they are done when the beans are tender and the meat is falling away from the bone.
You may need to add more water throughout the cooking process if too much of it cooks out.
These should develop a creamy broth as the beans cook.